What lies beneath?
This is a question I have been feeling into for many moons now. What lies beneath? What lies beneath our feet, beneath our paved roads and footpaths, and beneath the layers of protection, scaffolding, and armour that we wear around ourselves? And while feeling into this question, I heard a tale of a beautiful lost lake that once crowned parts of west Melbourne. It triggered in me a sense of deep loss, and an affirmation to continue searching for the places of forgotten beauty, and of those places not considered beautiful; the watery wastelands of our psyche and our landscapes.
In response to this tale and song, I created a painting in two parts. The first is an image of the blue lake that once covered parts of west Melbourne. It was said to be, “a real lake, blue, nearly oval and full of the clearest salt water…Fringed gaily all round with the purple mesembryantheum (pigface) in full bloom, it seemed in the broad sunshine to be girdled by a belt of magenta fire.” But this beautiful lake, although clearly appreciated by some, was undervalued by those with power. And by the 1860’s it was completely lost as it was covered over with bitumen and tar. The second part of the picture depicts the built world, and it is entitled What lies Beneath, or Only the Sky Remembers. The lake is there but hidden underneath. Upon hearing The Orbweavers sing of this lake, I was moved to reflect again on this question of what lies beneath all of us, and how can we reclaim those parts of ourselves and of the earth that need to be reclaimed. I link these two questions as part of the same one as I feel that whatever we do to her, we do to us, and whatever we do to us, we do to her.
So I am finding my way home to myself, and to the land I live on. I am finding my way home to a wholeness that connects us all by looking at what lies above and what lies beneath. But the journey is not easy nor the path defined. But my questions guide me, as Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen said to a teacher of mine, Your questions are your quest. And I am questing this year to reconnect myself to land, to country and to myself as healed and whole. Part of this involves learning the art of Dadirri, or Molla Wariga, of deep listening. This requires the giving of time and attention, of pausing, and reflecting. I feel the blue lake is a symbol of all this because water gifts us these ways of being. We pause at a lake, we listen to the birdsong, to the flow of water and we see our reflection. We trust in the flow of water, in her way of being. The Blue Lake was a salt lake and was linked to the tides, to the moon, to the cycles, the seasons. And this is another clue, to remember our own cycles as part of the larger whole. This is another part of the journey.
Although questing is often seen as a solo journey and part of it is done alone, we are also guided with signposts, and messages. We find timely reminders that we are not alone. We are gifted with others who will walk with us at least some of the way. For me, women’s circles and Red Tents help us to remember our deep connection to each other, to the land and to the spirits. It is part of my journeying home, and may be part of yours too.
And today I watched a beautiful video Dissonant Bundles and the Power of the Circle by Bec Funk, and Jacqui Grace of Beautiful Wasteland, and even that name conjures up so much of what I am trying to express….what is a wasteland? What is beauty? What aspects of our own beauty have we denied, repressed, estranged, paved over because it was not valued by ourselves or others? They explore these questions too. And while watching the video I am reminded of the story, Skeleton Woman by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. This story is worth exploring, for it also dwells with the need to accept and love the not beautiful aspects of self. Again this requires time, attending, and a willingness to really look beneath the surface and to allow others to do this too. Part of this is to risk showing ourselves to ourselves and to others. We are often surprised by what we find, for beauty is so much more than that visual aspect that we place so much importance on in this culture. Life in all her curiosity, wonder, wildness is beautiful.
The skeleton woman story may come to visit you, or maybe another is calling you. I believe the stories come to us when we are ready, and sometimes even when we are not. Another story that has been working its magic on me, is the tale of Persephone, and her descent into the underworld. I am dreaming up a workshop in which we use this tale as the starting point for exploring our own descent into what lies beneath. The descent is a necessary part of our journey, it is the heroines own healing. So this story presents a powerful reminder of the tools and resources we have at hand to be our own heroine, to journey down, and to descend into our power. The workshop will look at the tools can we use in order that we can be with, what it is that we find. And then having reclaimed these aspects of self, we will be guided in ways to ascend again while staying on the path of renewal.
Renewal requires a death and a letting go. Let us spend some time in renewal, regeneration and remembering. Let us see what happens if we walk the country of our inner landscape and the outer landscape. Let us see what happens if we dig below the surface to reclaim those places that we thought were not beautiful, that we through were wasteland, and see if we can be surprised by what we find…
As that beautiful poet ee cummins once wrote
For what ever we lose, (Like a you and a me)
It’s always ourselves we find in the sea.
Blessings on the descent, on this day before the dark moon.
Words for deep listening:
Dadirri is from the Daly River language group
Molla Wariga is from the Gurnai Language group
For more information on the blue lake, go to
and scroll to blue lake. The quote is from George, Gordon McCrae…taken from this site.